Published January 08, 2015
(SportsNetwork.com) - The rebuilding Buffalo Sabres will try to avoid matching their longest losing streak of the season when they visit the Calgary Flames for Tuesday's battle at the Saddledome.
The Sabres are dead last in the NHL with only 46 points on the season and the club is in the midst of its longest skid since beginning 2013-14 on a 0-6-1 drought from Oct. 2-14. Buffalo is 0-6-0 on its current slide and has scored a total of five goals during the slump.
Buffalo's latest setback came in Sunday's home test against the Montreal Canadiens. Dustin Tokarski made 29 saves for his first NHL shutout, as the Habs recorded a 2-0 decision at First Niagara Center.
Dale Weise and Brendan Gallagher scored against Sabres starter Jhonas Enroth, who left the game after 36 minutes with what the team said was a lower-body injury.
Nathan Lieuwen, recalled on Sunday from Buffalo's AHL affiliate in Rochester, made his NHL debut in relief of Enroth and stopped 10 shots despite playing for the third straight day. Lieuwen had played for Rochester on Friday and Saturday before being forced into action at the NHL level on Sunday.
With goaltender Michal Neuvirth day-to-day with a lower-body injury and Enroth not making the trip to Calgary, the 22-year-old Lieuwen could make his first NHL start on Tuesday.
In addition to Enroth, Sabres forwards Zemgus Girgensons (undisclosed), Chris Stewart (lower body) and defenseman Alexander Sulzer (upper body) also did not make the trip to Calgary, where Buffalo is beginning a five-game, 11-day road trip.
One player who could be in the lineup for Buffalo on Tuesday is forward Torrey Mitchell, who has played in just one game for the Sabres since coming over in a trade with Minnesota earlier this month. Mitchell debuted for Buffalo on March 6 against Tampa Bay, but left that game with a lower-body injury.
"He adds a fresh body. He has some moxie to his game, he has some speed to his game," Sabres head coach Ted Nolan said of Mitchell. "He has some maturity. He's played a lot of playoff games in this League so certainly he can add some experience to a very young team."
Like the Sabres, Calgary expects to be watching the playoffs from home this spring, but the Flames had won two in a row before dropping Saturday's road test against Phoenix. Shane Doan scored a tiebreaking power-play goal at 8:49 of the third period to lift the Coyotes to a 3-2 win in the desert.
Curtis Glencross and Mikael Backlund each scored a power-play goal in the second period for Calgary, while Mike Cammalleri assisted on both markers.
Joni Ortio stopped 22 shots for the Flames, who gave Phoenix eight power-play opportunities in the loss.
"It's just frustrating," Calgary's Mark Giordano said of his taking so many penalties, especially in the third. "I don't know what else to say."
The Flames, who haven't made the postseason since 2009, enter Tuesday 16 points out of a playoff spot in the West.
Calgary forward Matt Stajan will return to the lineup on Tuesday for the first time since the tragic loss of his son Emerson, who died shortly after Stajan's wife Katie gave birth to him on March 3.
The Stajans released a statement on Monday thanking everyone for their support through the difficult time, and Matt is hoping a return to hockey will help with the grieving process.
"Going on the ice, it's a nice place for any player to get skating and clear the mind. It's been refreshing the last couple days on my own skating and to get back on the ice skating, it's another step," Stajan told the Flames official website. "It's exciting for me to move forward here.
Stajan scored the overtime game-winner to help the Flames beat the Sabres 2-1 in Buffalo on Dec. 14. It was the second win in three meetings for the Flames, who also have won three straight and five of the last six home encounters against the Sabres.
Calgary is 15-16-3 as the host this season and is playing two straight and five of its next six games at home.